CultureLab • Thematic Cycle

Graeme Gilloch and Inês Sapeta Dias

Leituras críticas sobre a experiência da cidade – Special Session

Double Bill: Apropos London

10:00 – 13:00
Graeme Gilloch (Lancaster University, UK), “Apropos London: ‘city symphonies’ and ‘poetic journeys’”

(Room 0.06, I&D Building)
15:00 – 18:00
Film screening – London by Patrick Keiller (1994)

Presentation by Inês Sapeta Dias (Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa – Videoteca), "Ruins and fragments in the Lisbon of the Portuguese cinema in the 90's"

Discussion with Graeme Gilloch and Maria Filomena Molder

(Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa – Videoteca)
Graeme Gilloch

Alex Barrett’s acclaimed monochrome documentary London Symphony: A Poetic Journey through the Life of a City (2017) provides the occasion here for a critical exploration and reconsideration of the city symphony form as inaugurated back in the 1920s by Walter Ruttmann’s pioneering modernist film Berlin-Sinfonie einer Großstadt (1927). Situating Barrett’s film in three key contexts – as part of a particular cinematic-historical genre; as one of numerous ‘London’ films portraying the capital; and, more widely, as a timely snapshot of this quintessential 21st century global city – the paper examines how this cinematic homage exemplifies both the aesthetic merits and the political deficiencies of the city symphony idea. To this end, I draw upon Ruttmann’s most insightful and prescient critic – Siegfried Kracauer – to appreciate and to interrogate this self-styled ‘poetic journey’ of a man with a digital movie camera through the contemporary metropolis.

Inês Sapeta Dias

“He said that London was now a city of fragments that were no longer organized around the center and that if we were to find modernity anywhere it would be in the suburbs. And so it was that we returned to the valley of the river Brent.”
This presentation will happen in two steps. First, and right after the projection of London, by Patrick Keiller (1994), we will follow the concepts of fragment and ruin as they are activated in the film (which is a cartography guided by quotations, from where the quotation above was taken). And afterwards we’ll follow the ways in which the same themes – ruin and fragment – take part in the Lisbon of Portuguese cinema, mostly in the (same) 90’s: from the literal inclusion of the Chiado ruins in the texture of some films as Três Palmeiras (João Botelho, 1994) or Recordações da Casa Amarela (João César Monteiro, 1989); to the ruin as the image of a certain experience of the city – a fragmented experience that in films like Os Mutantes (Teresa Villaverde, 1998) ends in an expulsion of the characters from the center (of the city and of the shot).